Digger Quotes

Being summe of ye most interesting and poignant quotes from Gerrard Winstanley and the seventeenth century Diggers including 'Then and Now'

"..yet my mind was not at rest, because nothing was acted, and thoughts ran into me, that words and writings were all nothing, and must die, for action is the life of all, and if thou dost not act, thou dost nothing,"

Gerrard Winstanley, A Watch-Word to the City of London and the Armie.

" And thus you Powers of England, and of the whole World, we have declared our reasons why we have begun to dig upon George hill in Surrey. One thing I must tell you more.....

"Break in pieces quickly the Band of particular Propriety [property], disown this oppressing Murder, Opression and Thievery of Buying and Selling of Land, owning of landlords and paying of Rents and give thy Free Consent to make the Earth a Common Treasury without grumbling.....that all may enjoy the benefit of their Creation.

And hereby thou wilt honour thy Father and thy Mother : Thy Father, which is the spirit of community, that made all and that dwels in all. Thy Mother, which is the Earth, that brought us all forth: That as a true Mother, loves all her children. Therefore do not hinder the Mother Earth from giving all her children suck, by thy Inclosing into particular hands, and holding up that cursed Bondage of Inclosure by thy Power."

"Propriety and single interest divides the people of a land and the whole world into parties and is the cause of all wars and bloodshed and contention everywhere"

Gerrard Winstanley & 14 others TheTrue Levellers Standard Advanced - April, 1649

"Was the earth made to preserve a few covetous, proud men to live at ease, and for them to bag and barn up the treasures of the Earth from others, that these may beg or starve in a fruitful land; or was it made to preserve all her children?"

Gerrard Winstanley The New Law of Righteousness, 1649

"True religion and undefiled is this, To make restitution of the earth which hath been taken and held from the common people by the power of Conquests formerly and so set the oppressed free."

Gerrard Winstanley A New Yeers Gift for the Parliament and the Army, 1650

"Money must not any longer....be the great god that hedges in some and hedges out others, for money is but part of the Earth; and after our work of the Earthly Community is advanced, we must make use of gold or silver as we do of other metals but not to buy or sell."

Gerrard Winstanley and 44 others A Declaration from the Poor Oppressed People of England Directed to all that Call Themselves or are Called Lords of Manors, 1649


". . . a studying imagination comes into man, which is the devil for it is the cause of all evil, and sorrows in the World; that is he who puts out the eyes of mans Knowledge and tells him he must beleeve what others have writ or spoke, and not trust his own experience."

Gerrard Winstanley [so don't believe what he wrote either if it isn't true to your own experience!] The Law of Freedom in a Platform. 1652

"And the Reason is this, Every single man, Male and Female, is a perfect creature unto himself.....so that the flesh of man being subject to Reason, his Maker, hath him to be his Teacher and Ruler within himself, therefore needs not run abroad after any Teacher and Ruler without him, for he needs not that any man should teach him..."

"Oh thou Powers of England , though thou hast promised to make this People a Free People, yet thou hast so handled the matter, through thy self-seeking humour, That thou hast warpped us up more in bondage, and oppression lies heavier upon us;.......confounding all sorts of people by they Government of doing and undoing."

"We are made to hold forth this Declaration to you that are the Great Councel and to you the Great Army of the Land of England , that you may know what we would have, and what you are bound to give us by your Covenants and Promises; and that you may jyn us in this Work, and so find Peace. Or else, if you do oppose us us, we have peace in our Work, and in declaring this Report: And you shall be left without excuse.

The Work we are going about is this, To dig up George-Hill and trhe waste Ground thereabouts, and to Sow Corn, and to eat our bread together by the sweat of our brows."

"Those that Buy and Sell Land, and are landlords, have got it either by Oppression, or Murther, or Theft." 

"Take notice, That England is not a a Free People, till the Poor that have no Land, have a free allowance to dig and labour the Commons, and so live as Comfortably as the Landlords that live in their Inclosures

".....then certainly none shall say, This is my Land, work for me and I'le give you Wages. For, the Earth is the Lords, that is, Mans, who is the Lord of Creation......

"This delares likewise to all Labourers, or such as are called Poor people, that they shall not dare to work for Hire, for any Landlord, or any that is lifted up above others; for by their labours, they have lifted up Tyrants and Tyranny; and by denying to labor for Hire, they shall pull them down again. He that works for another, either for Wages or to pay him Rent, works unrighteously, and still lifts up the Curse; but they that are resolved to work and eat together, making the Earth a Common Treasury, doth joyn hands with Christ, to lift up the Creation from Bondage, and restores all things from the Curse."

Gerrard Winstanley & 14 others TheTrue Levellers Standard Advanced - April, 1649 

"Therefore we are resolved to be cheated no longer, nor to be held under the slavish fear of you no longer, see the Earth was made for us, as well as for you: And if the Common Land belongs to us who are the poor oppressed, surely the woods that grow upon the Commons belong to us likewise...."

Gerrard Winstanley and 44 others A Declaration from the Poor Oppressed People of England Directed to all that Call Themselves or are Called Lords of Manors, 1649

"And London, nay England, look to thy freedom, I'le assure thee, thou art very neere to be cheated of it, and if thou lose it now after all thy boasting, truly thy posterity will curse thee, for thy unfaithfulness to them: everyone talks of freedome, but there are but few that act for freedome, and the actors for freedome are oppressed by the talkers and verball professors of freedome; if thou wouldst what true freedome is, read over this and my other writings [O.K., Gerrard, that's enough plugging your pamphlets] and thou shalt see it lies in the community in spirit and community in the earthly treasury...."

Gerrard Winstanley A Watch-Word To The City of London and the Armie 1649

"Search all your Laws, and Ile adventure my life, for I have little else to lose, That all Lords of Mannors hold Title to the Commons by no stronger hold than the Kings Will, whose Head is cut off; and the King held title as he was a Conqueror; now if you cast off the King who was Head of that power, surely the power of Lords of Mannors is the same; therefore performe your own Act of Parliament, and cast out that part of the Kinglie power likewise....."

"....the government we have gives freedome and livelihood to the Gentry, to have abundance, and to lock up Treasures of the Earth from the poor, so that rich men may have chests full of Gold and Silver, and houses full of Corn and Goods to look upon; and the poor that works to get it, can hardly live, and if they cannot work like Slaves, then they must starve......and yet you say this is a righteous government, but surely it is no other than self-ishness, which is the great Red Dragon, the Murtherer.

"England is a Prison; the variety of subtilties in the Laws preserved by the Sword, are bolts, bars, and doors of the prison; the Lawyers are Jaylors, and poor men are the prisoners; for let a man fall into the hands of any from the Bailiffe to the Judge, and he is either undone, or wearie of his life."

"Buying and Selling is an Art, whereby people endeavour to cheat one another of the Land.......and true Religion is, To let every one enjoy it."

Gerrard Winstanley A New-yeers Gift for the Parliament and Armie 1650

"So long as the earth is intagled and appropriated into particular hands and kept there by the power of the sword......so long the creation lies under bondage."

Gerrard Winstanley Fire in the Bush 1650

"And here I end, having put my arm as far as my strength will go to advance Righteousness; I have Writ, I have Acted, I have Peace: now I must wait to see the Spirit do his work in the hearts of others, and whether England shall be the first Land, or some others, wherein Truth shall sit down in triumph.

Anon. -but almost certainly Gerrard Winstanley A Bill of Account of the most Remarkable Sufferings that the Diggers have met with from the great red Dragons power since April 1, 1649 / 1650?

"The spirit Reason doth not preserve the creature and destroy another......but it hath a regard to the whole creation; and knits every creature together into a onenesse; making every creature to be an upholder of his felow; and so every one is an assistant to preserve the whole.

"The clouds send down raine, and there is great undeniable reason in it, for otherwise the earth could not bring forth grasse and fruit. The earth sends forth grasse, or else cattel could not be preserved. The sunne gives his light and heate or else the Creation could not subsist. So that the mighty power Reason hath made these to give life and preservation one to another.

Gerrard Winstanley Truth Lifting Up Its Head Above Scandals 1649

"I am assured that if it be rightly searched into, the inward bondages of the minde, as covetousness, pride, hypocrisie, envy, sorrow, fears, desperation, and madness are all occasioned by the outward bondage that one sort of people lay upon another."

Gerrard Winstanley The New Law of Righteousness, 1649




"Some hearing of this Common Freedom think there must be a community of all the fruits of the earth whether they work or no, therefore strive to live idle on other men's labours."

Gerrard Winstanley The Law of Freedom in a Platform. 1652


"And because there were some treacherous persons drew up a note and subscribed our names to it, and by that moved some friends to give mony to this work of ours, when as we know of no such note, nor subscribed our hands to any, nor ever received any money from such Collection.

Therefore to prevent such a Cheat, I have mentioned a word or two at the end of a printed book against that treachery, that neither we nor our Friends may be cheated: And I desire, if any be willing to communicate of their substance unto our worke, that they would make a Collection among themselves, and send the money to Cobham to the Diggers owne hands, by some trusty friend of your owne, and so neither you nor we shall be cheated."

Gerrard Winstanley and others in a "Letter Taken at Wellingborough" -1650


"Everyone who speaks of any Herb, Plant, Art or Nature of Mankind is required to speak nothing by imagination, but what he hath found out by his own industry and observation in tryal."

Gerrard Winstanley The Law of Freedom in a Platform. 1652


"The first time, divers of the Diggers were carried Prisoners into Walton Church, where some of them were struck in the Church by the bitter Professors....

"Some of the Diggers were beaten by the Gentlemen, the Sheriff looking on, and afterwards five of them were carried to White Lion Prison, and kept there about five week and then let out......

"They Arrested some of us and some they cast into Prison; and from others they went about to take away their Goods....

"One of the Diggers had his head sore wounded, and a Boy beaten, and his cloathes taken from him....

"Divers of the Diggers were beaten upon the Hill by William Star and John Taylor, and by men in womens apparel  [Oh, alright then, Brays private detective agency never actually thought of that one on the road protests (so far!)], and so sore wounded, that some of them were fetched home in a Cart.

"The Dragonly enemy pulled down a House which the Diggers had built upon George Hill and cut their Spades and Howes to pieces.

"We had another House pulled down....

"Another Cart and Wheels was cut to pieces and some of our Tooles taken by force from us which we never had again.

"...we had all our Corn spoyled....

"...two soldiers sent by Parson Platt pulled down another house, and turned a poor old man and his wife out of doors to lie in the field on a cold night.

Anon. -but almost certainly Gerrard Winstanley A Bill of Account of the most Remarkable Sufferings that the Diggers have met with from the great red Dragons power since April 1, 1649 / 1650?

Credit , respect and thanks to Jim Paton at the Advisory Service for Squatters in Islington North London for these quotations - put together in January 1999